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Australian Sailing Youth Team tune up for worlds at Sail Brisbane - 29er sailors Australian champions Jim Colley and Shaun Connor
Sail Brisbane’s budding entry list for kiteboards and single, double and triple handed dinghies has drawn competitors from Australia, New Zealand and Germany.

Now firmly established at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron over the Easter long weekend, April 17-21, Sail Brisbane is the state’s largest annual dinghy regatta.

This year’s series will include state championships for all the '9er' classes - the 29er and the two Olympic classes - the 49er and the 49er FX.

At least five members of the Australian Sailing Youth Team will compete at Sail Brisbane straight after a Yachting Australia training camp at the RQYS.

Tasmanian Techno 293 and RS:X sailor Jock Calvert is one of the youth team members using Sail Brisbane to prepare for his second world championship in the RS:X class.

The Hobart based 16 year-old has chosen a unique sailing discipline small in numbers in Australia which means limited opportunities to train and compete. For valuable match practice in the RS:X, the Olympic windsurfing class, he enters as many regattas as possible and competes in both youth and open divisions, measuring up against powerful athletes using a full sized rig.

This year is Calvert’s second as an Australian Sailing Youth Team member. In 2013 he spent seven months of the year training on his own on the Derwent River, contested two European regattas then took out the Techno 293 class at the Australian Youth Championship held on the Mornington Peninsula back in January.

At Sail Brisbane Calvert and his new local training partner, Morgan Davies, will compete in the RS:X class, some say a branch of sailing while others reckon it’s windsurfing. Calvert thinks of his sport as sailing and explains the difference between the RS:X and a windsurfer. “With the RS:X there is no rudder, you control where you are going with the balance of the rig and the rig stays up when you balance your weight against it.”

In light airs sailors must pump the rig to keep the board moving, a process that generates enormous body heat. This is why Calvert can train in the wind chill of the Derwent River in the middle of winter in a hot top and pants rather than a dry suit, which would trap too much heat.

“It’s only the fingers and toes that feel the cold,” he said.

The year 11 student is “fairly busy”, running three mornings, training twice in the gym and attending four on-water training sessions per week, on top of schoolwork.

Queensland’s top female youth RS:X sailor Lara O’Brien, an ASYT member, will compete at Sail Brisbane for the host club. Victorian Laser Radial sailor Anna Philip will join her ASYT teammate on the water in her chosen class.

In the Byte CII class there is plenty resting on the final results. The winning Australian boy and girl will be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for the Australian Youth Team participating in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in August.

Secretary of the Queensland 29er Class Association Scott McInally says the timing of Sail Brisbane gives competitors the chance to contest a major regatta every few months.

“There’s Queensland Youth Week then all the youth nationals at Christmas, which is a very congested time, then Sail Brisbane in April. They are well-spaced which means the kids can participate in all the major regattas.”

The top three male 29er crews have put their names down for the class’ state title. Tom Siganto will crew for new skipper Ezra Pritchard and Sydney based Kurt Hansen and Harry Morton, runners up at the Australian Youth Championships will be looking to switch the finish order with Jim Colley and Shaun Connor.

The ASYT duo of Colley and Connor, sailing for Sydney’s RPAYC, were the ultimate victors in the 29ers at the Australian youth champs. Like their teammates they plan to use Sail Brisbane as an important stepping stone on the path to the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Portugal in July.

The 29er association anticipates four all-girl teams.

Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron is located at Manly, Brisbane.

Sail Brisbane runs from Thursday 17th to Monday 21st April and is open to Optimists, Sabots, Bytes, Flying 11s, 125, 420s, 29ers, 49ers, 49er FXs, BIC Technos, RS:Xs, kiteboards, Hobie 16s and all three Laser rig classes as well as for the first time, an all boats division.

For entry details and Notice of Race visit the website www.sailbrisbane.com.au/sail-brisbane-2014/

Photo : David Price
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